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Kids home from college or “Adult Children” visiting for the holidays? While truly, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!...!” it can also be an occasion for strained family relations and a stressful time for parents and kids as differing expectations clash and feelings get sideways.

Here are three great thoughts for making the Holidays run smoother and happier for all.

Based on an article I recently read about, “Returning Adult Children”* the THREE words that were used to describe the most “successful and satisfied” families were those who embraced WARMTH and STRUCTURE with COURTESY. Here are my thoughts on these:

1. Warmth: Did you know your family is "The Domestic Church"? This means that not only is every baptized believer a Temple of the Holy Spirit, housing God in each of our hearts but that our actual family unit is a picture of the Church. Here is a great explanation of that:

"The vocation of every family is to become a small body of Christ. That is, what we experience in the Church we should experience in our family relationships. In other words, love, forgiveness, sacrifice, mercy, worship and the healing of God is actually meant to be present in our own “domestic church,” the church of the home.”**

Yep-- you got it-- we are to be Jesus to each other. That means start and end with love as your main goal. Sometimes it is easier to be this to those OUTSIDE the home rather than those INSIDE the home. Think about it: Jesus was in Nazareth for about thirty of His thirty-three year long life, and we can bet He had ample opportunity to practice all He was about to preach before setting out on the road to “minister”. “Church” begins at home. Spread the LOVE and feel the WARMTH.

2. Structure: Did you know people “do better” when expectations are made very clear?

Does your family have Godly guidelines that have been made known to all--recently?

You might want to send a “friendly family email” that states your “House Ground Rules” and expectations as well as a schedule for the holidays before your house is descended upon and the chaos ensues.

It might go something like this:

Dear family, We are so excited about everyone coming home for Christmas! Just to be clear, we wanted to make sure everyone knows the schedule and our expectations. 1. We will go to Mass on Sunday (and Christmas or whenever!) at ___. 2. We expect for everyone to please be present at the family dinner(s) on _____. 3. Please remember there will be a house full! Because we have two bathrooms, that means we must be thoughtful of others--no LONG showers! And we expect all to help with the dishes after each meal. 4. Mom would like help with _______ and Dad with _____ on ______. 5. We will have breakfast Christmas morning at ____ so please be ready to go by ___! 6. While we know you will want to hang out with your friends, we expect you to be be home on ___ and each other night by ___ and to text us your plans, etc. etc...

After being away and on their own, it is nice to let them know in advance what to expect when home. When expectations are made clear in advance, there should be far less friction and confusion and it will allow time for peaceful “negotiations” if needed.

3. Courtesy: This really comes down to what Aretha Franklin would call -R-E-S-P-E-C-T! According to the above stated article: “Respect carries within it a willingness to check one's own appetites, desires, and actions and the possibility of modifying gratification of these if they intrude upon the other or, at least, of negotiating a compromise. Respect in a relationship suggests that one is willing to grant to the other esteem, attention, consideration, and privacy. Respect implies that difficulties or confusion will be handled by seeking information and attempting to solve problems, rather than by secrecy, gossip, and ‘mind reading.’”

You might want to encourage all to please watch this wonderful short video by Fr. Bill Byrne before heading home! :)

A great quote recently sent to me stated: “Be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the wrong. Sometime in your life you will have been all of these.”

God bless you and may your upcoming Holidays be filled with the love of Jesus, clearly stated and beautifully met expectations :) and deep respect and kindness for all!

“I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another, through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace…” Ephesians 4:1-3

Dear Lord,

Please give me patience, strength, love and a great sense of humor. Let all see You in me. Please make our home a beautiful “Domestic Church” where love permeates our walls, is present on our lips and felt in every action. Please help me to be clear, loving and kind. May this be our gift to You this season.

I ask this in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Want more tips about how to deal with COLLEGE AGED STUDENTS? Try Maribeth Harper’s “And So We Pray--Supporting Young Adults Through the College Years” books 1 and 2 ( Chapter 5 in book 1 is excellent in helping with Christmas! And read her blog at:




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